What About Getting Hit by a Falling Safe While Walking Down the Street?

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At Wired News, Ryan Singel puts the risk of getting killed by terrorists in perspective:

risk ratings.jpg

To be fair to the police, they generally do not kill people completely at random (although it happens). But on the whole, the list is pretty reassuring. Just don't let it lull you to sleep while you're driving.

[via Nova Lounge]

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  1. therefore let’s reelect the people who keep these numbers low.

  2. Hee hee. Love it. Indeed, Jared, blowing this whistle keeps the elephants away…

  3. I see here a reason to wage a War on Two-story Buildings!

  4. To be fair to the police, they generally do not kill people completely at random

    This is why people are most scared of the stuff at the bottom. Look at the items in the top 4/5ths. Most of them, even the “accidental” ones, involve someone doing somthing themselves (the flu could probably be argued both ways), whereas what most people are scared of is what *others* might do to them. Most people think, perhaps mistakenly, that if they just live smart enough, they’ll avoid all those more likely deaths.

  5. Look, you’re either with us or your against us in the War on Falling. We’re going to zone against density to prevent this sort of thing. Anybody who opposes low-density zoning is objectively pro-gravity.

    Now, there are some liberal college professors who would like to insist that falling off a building is your own fault, because you were “irresponsible” or “reckless.” That blame the faller first mentality might be popular among latte-sipping elites, but Real Americans regard those liberal professors as Fifth Storyists.

  6. Nobody in this country has been killed by bird flu, but a lot of people think its a threat. Just a handful of Americans were killed by the Soviets, yet we thought they were a pretty big deal. The Japanese didn’t kill any Americans until December 1941, but they got is pretty good after that.

    Maybe I’m missing the point.

  7. I feel even better about disconnecting the stupid carbon monoxide detectors in my house after reading this. (I figured the risk had to be miniscule: Have you ever heard of someone dying from CO poisoning that wasn’t self-induced?)

  8. Why does gravity hate America?

  9. I hate it when people make fun of those color-coded Homeland Security threat-level charts.

    Or as I like to call them, the Carpet Samples Of Doom.

  10. Jack,

    It almost happened to my entire family when I was a kid. The landlord accidentally closed the flue for the chimney, loaded a bunch of really poor quality coal, and walked away. Unfortunately our apartment’s fireplace used the same chimney, so our ground floor apartment became the exhaust path for the furnace. My whole family, with the exception of my mother were overcome by the CO, and we nearly died. Of course, we were living in Ankara, Turkey at the time, and I have yet to find a single home in the U.S. that is fed by coal, but it is possible.

    (For the morbidly curious, my mom rescued us all by dragging the other three of us who had been overcome outside before she collapsed too. The cat lived because at that time of night she it was her custom to go outside and dig up then relieve herself in the landlord’s flower garden.)

  11. “Or as I like to call them, the Carpet Samples Of Doom.”

    Thanks Drew W. Now I have to clean the beer out of my keyboard.

  12. SDR — sorry. But if you gradually tilt your keyboard up while sucking on the lower-left Ctrl key, you can get most of it back (even though it tastes kinda funny).

  13. So there is no difference between having a safe fall on you by accident or having someone push one onto you. There is novel terrorist strategy in that reasoning: rather that getting on a bus with a bomb, just run out in front of one and cause an accident. So you won’t get all 72 virgins for your sacrifice, but 8 virgins and 1 whore might be worth it.

  14. Jack — Weird Al Yankovic’s parents spring to mind. (Now _there’s_ a sentence I never thought I’d have to use…)

    http://www.weirdal.com/msg.htm

  15. “Worrying about the terrorist threat is silly, other things are more dangerous!” – if you’re still saying that when the next big attack occurs, I will say you’ve got a good point. If on the other hand, you’re saying something like “why wasn’t this stopped”, I call bullshit.

  16. I’m with Reg and Dave. The so-called logic behind this is pretty weak even for anti-war people.

  17. So there is no difference between having a safe fall on you by accident or having someone push one onto you. – JKII

    Man, I hope we never piss off Anvilania.

    Kevin

  18. To be serious, I’m not saying we shouldn’t do anything about terrorism. I’m saying that we shouldn’t turn the world upside down. There is a middle ground between doing nothing and turning the world upside down.

  19. thoreau
    Agreed. When I leave my house I lock the door. I don’t put metal bars on the windows and hire 24 hour armed guards.

  20. “Worrying about the terrorist threat is silly, other things are more dangerous!” – if you’re still saying that when the next big attack occurs, I will say you’ve got a good point. If on the other hand, you’re saying something like “why wasn’t this stopped”, I call bullshit.

    I’m with Reg and Dave. The so-called logic behind this is pretty weak even for anti-war people.

    I don’t think that the point here is that we shouldn’t worry about terrorism or that should an attack occur we shouldn’t look very hard to see if it could have been prevented or that we shouldn’t work hard to prevent it. Those interpretations are a chorus line of straw men. The point is simply that we need to recognize that terrorism is merely one danger among many that we face, and that it is not even the worst one–not even close–and our policies and our employment of resources should be proportional. Think about it: should we really spend three, four, five hundred billion dollars and sacrifice thousands of our citizens (and a hundred thousand or so foreign citizens–although apparently they don’t count as much as their skin is darker) invading countries that have no connection to a danger that will kill fewer people in this country than drownings??

    Supporters of the war and Bush’s handling of anti-terrorism efforts like very much to play on our irrational fears. They say that our very way of life is in danger. That is total nonsense, and these numbers prove it. The only way terrorism could fundamentally alter our way of life is indirect, by causing us to be ruled by unfounded fears. If enough of us avoid that trap, we’ll be just fine. Showing the GOP the door this November would be a good first step.

  21. jeffiek-

    OK, so you don’t hire 24 hour armed guards, but do you issue “Personal Security Letters” that permit you to go through the records of local businesses without a warrant, and bar the business owners from telling customers?

  22. thoreau –
    Nah. Too much work. Actually, I just sold my house a few months ago, but in the 25 years I was there the window above my porch was unlocked. No one ever entered it (except me when I locked myself out of the house – which is why the window was unlocked). I only locked my car when it had packages in it or I parked in a questionable location. Never had one stolen.

  23. So there is no difference between having a safe fall on you by accident or having someone push one onto you.

    I don’t think that’s what is being said. There is obviously “a difference.” Just as there is a difference between getting murdered and getting hit by a car. But should my town, where there are very, very few murders but many, many speeders, spend that extra money they have hiring a bunch of homicide detectives or upping traffic patrols? You make the call.

  24. I think this chart is witty, but a bit misleading.

    Yes, on an INDIVIDUAL scale, I’m not overly concerned about being kakked by terrorists (even though I do ride the DC subway every day).

    But the threat of islam to western culture (with the prevailing symptom of terrorism)? I think a chart on that scale would look different. Consider what is happening in Europe as we speak.

    Ergo, the threat of islamic violence on the individual: not a biggie. To a culture: something to worry about.

  25. Are statistics about the past a reasonable way of evaluating future risk?

    How many people had been killed by the Nazis in 1938? How many Americans?

    There is little reason to believe that automobile accidents, accidental falls and accidental poisonings pose much threat to the future existence of the country, much less western civilization.

    Jihadis armed with nuclear weapons seem to be something else altogether. If we wait for the statistics of past death rates to rise to the level of automobile accidents and the like, and then take appropriate action, it will probably already be too late. Isn’t that the point of those who would be aggressive about taking action against the jihadis now?

    Finally, it’s easy and appropriate to ridicule the TSA, as writers and commenters at Reason have done ad nauseum, but what then should be done?

  26. Finally, it’s easy and appropriate to ridicule the TSA, as writers and commenters at Reason have done ad nauseum, but what then should be done?

    Kick the TSA out of the airports. Keep the ones that can use a geiger counter and send them off on nuclear scanger hunt.

  27. I have already urged my congress-person to get working on the department of adult safety-town security. The whole highway system should reflect the safety town design that has worked to protect children from crossing the street before looking both ways. Helmets and fullbody wearable airbags will be manditory and a better more bumpercar design will also be required by the auto-industry (murderers!) The speed limit will be set to 30mph and cars will need to survive a 50mph crash with no damage (just to be safe).

  28. Ergo, the threat of islamic violence on the individual: not a biggie. To a culture: something to worry about.

    I am not sure you provided enough evidence that Islamic violence is a threat to our culture–tell us more about how this is so.

    Also, I don’t think that the chart is saying that we shouldn’t “worry” about terrorism. The chart isn’t saying that you shouldn’t have a carbon monoxide detector, is it? And yet the danger of CO2 poisoning and terrorism are at the same level.

  29. .

    So lets compare acts of consensual sex versus acts of rape. See ladies, your fears are irrational.

    .

  30. Ethan:

    As I’ve said, look at Europe. Their Muslim populations are growing exponentially, and as this occurs, they become even more insular, and lash out at the “outside”.

    They are only following the dictates of their so-called “holy book”, which describes only two types of people: believers, and non-believers. The latter are to be dealt with in one of three ways: conversion, complete subjugation with the compulsion of paying a “tax”, or, of course, death.

    This goes hand-in-hand with Muslims rioting and killing over something as simple as a cartoon. No criticism is to be permitted. No resistance to their way of life is to be tolerated. There is either subjugation (“surrender to Allah”), or death.

    Nineteen determined young men brought this country to its knees with box cutters (though temporarily). I refuse to believe this was just a fluke, as with the murders in Spain and Britain.

  31. thoreau,

    your spoof of joe at 8:57 PM, Sept. 12 was not only spot-on but funny!

  32. Are statistics about the past a reasonable way of evaluating future risk?

    It’s one way, and perhaps in the end it is the only way. In the final analysis, our attempts to predict are founded upon general theories about what can cause what, and such theories are based on what we have observed (in the past).

    Is this chart intended to constitute the entire basis of our anti-terrorism efforts? I doubt it. It is merely intended to provide perspective. Terrorists pulled off a spectacularly successful attack and killed 3,000 people. Apart from a nuclear scenario, deaths from terrorism aren’t likely to get much higher than that and will probably be much lower in a given year. It’s just plain difficult to kill lots of people if you don’t run the place. Even if terrorists become extremely successful (again, setting aside the nuclear scenario for the moment) and are able to kill 30,000 next year, that still would pale in comparison to poisonings, etc., and our policies should reflect those proportions.

    How many people had been killed by the Nazis in 1938? How many Americans?

    Are you saying that we should have gone in and killed the Nazis in 1938? If so, I await your justification of that premise. You are probably not saying that, but notice this: you are relying here on what happened in the past to guide your thinking about the future, a method the reliability of which you just impugned. I leave it to others to point out the subtle differences between the Third Reich and Al Q.

    There is little reason to believe that automobile accidents, accidental falls and accidental poisonings pose much threat to the future existence of the country, much less western civilization.

    Jihadis armed with nuclear weapons seem to be something else altogether. If we wait for the statistics of past death rates to rise to the level of automobile accidents and the like, and then take appropriate action, it will probably already be too late. Isn’t that the point of those who would be aggressive about taking action against the jihadis now?

    I don’t think that the lesson of the chart is intended to be “we should not be aggressive in our anti-terrorism efforts” or “we should wait until deaths from terrorism reach the level of self-poisonings before we do anything.” Notice that the lesson of the chart is also not “We shouldn’t care when a police officer shoots someone.” The non-nuclear terrorist threat is extremely minor; regarding the nuclear version of terrorism, of course such an attack is possible, but is invading other countries the way to contain that threat, and, by the way, what exactly has the current government been doing to address this threat? How are the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan going to lessen such a threat? Did they not actually divert our attention and resources away from the most likely sources of such a threat, North Korea and Iran? Have we not installed a government in Iraq that constitutes a greater threat (albeit still a small one) to support terrorists than the one we deposed? The time and energy we are spending on anti-terrorism should be lessened greatly and focused on the nuclear possibility. Perhaps we agree on that, but that is not being done.

    Also, regarding the nuclear possibility: not even a nuclear attack threatens our “civilization.” Just ask the Japanese. They are still there, no? We should be tenacious in trying to prevent such an attack, because dying sucks, but let’s not kid ourselves and think that our very civilization hangs in the balance. I have gone several days without thinking about Sacramento–if we lose it I will be able to go on. Hey, maybe we did lose it, I didn’t watch the news this morning.

  33. So lets compare acts of consensual sex versus acts of rape. See ladies, your fears are irrational.

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!

  34. MNG-

    1) You act as though most Muslims buy into a particular version of their faith. Say what you will about your particular interpretation of the Koran, but most religious believers around the world find ways to get by with a non-violent interpretation of whatever book they believe in. What you’re doing is no different from the atheist who told me a long time ago that if I wanted to be a Catholic I must adhere to his strawman version of Catholicism. Real world believers don’t operate like that. Maybe they aren’t “real Muslims”, and maybe I’m not a “real Catholic”, but we are real people. Real people rarely practice their religions the way that YOU think we’re supposed to. We are what we are, and we believe what we believe, regardless of what the crazies (and people who only pay attention to the crazies) say.

    2) America was brought to its knees? Huh? In less than a month the American people raised more than a billion dollars in private donations for the survivors of 9/11, overthrew the government that sponsored our attackers, overwhelmed the blood banks with donations for the rescue effort, and expressed an overwhelming wave of patriotism in every way imaginable. Americans showed that they are tough people who stick together when the going gets tough, take care of their own, and get back at those who mess with us. I’m not going to pretend that 9/11 was a good event (it was quite obviously an awful thing) but it did show the very best that America has to offer.

    So quit with the “brought this country to its knees” nonsense. That never happened.

  35. Ethan:

    As I’ve said, look at Europe. Their Muslim populations are growing exponentially, and as this occurs, they become even more insular, and lash out at the “outside”.

    They are only following the dictates of their so-called “holy book”, which describes only two types of people: believers, and non-believers. The latter are to be dealt with in one of three ways: conversion, complete subjugation with the compulsion of paying a “tax”, or, of course, death.

    This goes hand-in-hand with Muslims rioting and killing over something as simple as a cartoon. No criticism is to be permitted. No resistance to their way of life is to be tolerated. There is either subjugation (“surrender to Allah”), or death.

    Nineteen determined young men brought this country to its knees with box cutters (though temporarily). I refuse to believe this was just a fluke, as with the murders in Spain and Britain.

    You’ve described a problem, we all agree on that. Terrorism is a problem we face. Europe has a problem. Is European civilization itself threatened? I don’t see that.

    I believe that you accurately describe the beliefs of a fair number of Muslims. There is a strain of radicalism in modern Islam, not doubt about it. But there is a difference between a belief and an action, and while a fair number of Muslims may harbor in their hearts a warm feeling for the jihadists, only the tiniest sliver of them will actually become jihadists bent on actually doing the killing rather than just believing in the killing.

    What is the answer? I am convinced that strong-arm tactics–among them the invasion of Muslim countries–are not the answer. That only perpetuates the problem by giving Muslims more reason to be angry. Remember that the terrorist plot in Britain was foiled in part by a tip that came from the Muslim community: if we are serious about ending the killings we should not approach Muslims, radical or otherwise, as the enemy.

    Did 9/11 bring this country “to its knees”? Despite the vagueness of the metaphor, I am going to have to say no, it didn’t. Planes were grounded for a few days and as a people we were severely shaken up, certainly. To employ a vague metaphor of my own, I would say, as a civilization, we missed a couple of beats and then played on. This country is founded on too many good ideas to be felled by a boxcutter.

  36. “”So lets compare acts of consensual sex versus acts of rape. See ladies, your fears are irrational.””

    It’s not that the fear per se is irrational, it’s the amount of fear.

    If ladies were locking up their private parts with big metal chasity belts, refusing to get near men, not leave the house, and the such, It would be irrational fear of rape.

    If you subtract the amount of people killed in NY, it greatly reduces the odds for people elsewhere. The day we start protecting a petting zoo in the middle of nowhere TN, we’re off our rocker.

    We only need two colors for the color code.
    One for something might happen.
    One for something just happened.

  37. t:

    I’ll go out on a limb here, and say Christian fundamentalism (as destructive as it ever was) versus Islamic fundamentalism (does it even exist?) is apples and oranges.

    Yes, the Old Testament is rife with tribalistic violence and the acts of a vengeful god. But if one looks closely at the words (and JUST the words) of Jesus, you will see nothing but the teachings of compassion, tolerance, and mercy (and trust me, I deny the divinity of Jesus in the supernatural sense). So I think one can argue that if one commits violence in the name of Jesus, they are forsaking Jesus.

    Mohammed, on the other hand, was a brutal warlord. Murder and destruction in his name isn’t inconsistent to the very heart of his teachings.

    Yes, you are correct, there are “moderate” Muslims who won’t participate in the lesser Jihad (war on unbelievers). But they are under constant threat from those who believe that they are not “pure” enough, and that accounts for the never-ending Muslim on Muslim murders.

    And my question is… why don’t these “moderate” Muslims take over? Why don’t they crush those among them who seek to kill them?

    Perhaps, by doing so, they would be destroying the very essence of Islam.

  38. I find it funny when people claim that the western culture or the English language is in jeopardy. Neither is true. If anything western culture and the English language is influencing all other cultures and how they speak.

    The western culture has some what propagated virtually every part of the world. How many US fast food resturants open in a forgien country in the last 5 years?

    English is the most universal language in the world and that is increasing. If you know two languages, one of them is probably English.

    If one is to aruge that we must war with countries that are trying to influence our culture, we would be no better than those who desire war with us because the US is influencing their culture?

    For a country that suppose to be home of the brave we sure act like a bunch of chickens.

    Whatever happen to “the only thing to fear, is fear its self?

  39. Ethan,

    Well, I guess my too-casual offhand question about statistics from the past being a questionable guide to evaluating future risks needs some explanation. I was assuming the context of the chart and the article in Wired, namely that current death rates are a guide to the level of risk we objectively face from jihadi terrorism. I was not trying to discount the value of statistics for evaluating future risks (I work in the insurance business, that’s the heart of the actuarial method), nor was I trying to eliminate induction as a method of reaching conclusions from evidence. But there’s a reason insurance companies don’t insure risks that cannot be evaluated from past statistics (like acts of war), and where the risk cannot be pooled to include those not at risk (like acts of war). The point about the Nazi threat in 1938 was that past death rates were simply not a good tool for evaluating the threat that was emerging at that time.

    Since you mention it, I can’t resist making the point that with the evidence of hindsight, there’s a pretty clear case for militarily stifling Nazism early on. That would undoubtedly have produced a lot of resentful Nazis, and could have kept the Nazi movement alive for a longer time, but it would have had the minor benefit of shutting off a major part of a world war…

    With regard to your third and major point, we will have to agree to disagree on the intended meaning of that chart. I think it is precisely meant to reduce the aggressiveness of our anti-jihadi efforts, and to discount the moral and practical value of action now. The rather swift descent into what sounds like an outraged rant against the effectiveness of our present course of action may find more sympathy from me than you suspect, but not much more. Continued supineness in the face of 9/11 would have confirmed jihadi views on our essential decadence and cowardice. It is still going to take a long time, and I suspect a lot of military action, to convince them otherwise.

    With regard to your final point discounting nuclear attack and its impact on civilization, I regret to say that I find that view to be ridiculous. And as for the Japanese, that nuclear attack ended any significant power of the culture of Japanese militarism. Many losers in war ‘survive’, it’s their values that do not.

    In another comment, you mentioned that military action against jihadis just annoys them more, and suggesting that such action is therefore impractical. When, in your view, would military action against the jihadis be practical?

    It may be necessary, given the amount of snark that flies around here, to state most emphatically that I intend no snark with that question….

  40. “”In another comment, you mentioned that military action against jihadis just annoys them more, and suggesting that such action is therefore impractical. When, in your view, would military action against the jihadis be practical?””

    The ulimate judge of wining or not against terrorism is in the numbers that exist in their ranks. Their motive is their “cause”. The more attracted to that cause, the bigger our problem.
    One man shaking his fist at the world is a lunatic. A 1000 men shaking their fist at the world is a movement. To reduce terrorism, (defeating evil is a myth) one must reduce the attractiveness of the cause.

    There are many people who are on the fence, they don’t really like us, and they don’t like the terrorist. It is of upmost importance to not let these people fall on the pro-terror side.

    If military strikes reduce their numbers, they are useful. If military strikes increase their numbers it is counter-productive. SO, the general answer is military strikes should only be used when it is NOT counter-productive. Using cruise missiles to destroy a training camp does little to invoke anger and sympathy in others. So that would be a good example of when it’s ok.

    Destroying a neighborhood with many civilians DOES invoke anger and sympathy in those who would not have sided with the enemy prior to the action. This is counter-productive and not a good idea.

    Of course those two examples use bombs as the military might.

    When terrorist operate in a populated area, bombs are not a productive tool. The Spec Ops guys are. By going in mano a mano we reduce the chances of converting non-terrorist into terrorist or supporters of terrorist. Of course this could be more deadly to our troops. But that’s what they get paid for.

    Bush’s policy has created more not less terrorist, it would be foolish to think his policies are putting us on the path for victory.

  41. I can’t resist making the point that with the evidence of hindsight, there’s a pretty clear case for militarily stifling Nazism early on.

    But I think you would need to make the case without the evidence of hindsight in order to make the two cases analogous. And there is a wide spectrum between “militarily stifling” and a full-blown invasion.

    With regard to your third and major point, we will have to agree to disagree on the intended meaning of that chart. I think it is precisely meant to reduce the aggressiveness of our anti-jihadi efforts, and to discount the moral and practical value of action now.

    I don’t think so. I think that the maker of the chart most likely questions the scale of our response, not its aggressiveness. It’s not a question of aggressiveness–we all want our anti-terrorist policies to be pursued aggressively–it’s a question of the proper placement of our resources. And the chart certainly does not “discount” “action now” (though it may be intended to discount our particular actions now). I think we all agree that action is needed now. Just because one questions a particular action doesn’t imply that one would question all action or thinks that nothing should be done.

    And as for the Japanese, that nuclear attack ended any significant power of the culture of Japanese militarism. Many losers in war ‘survive’, it’s their values that do not.

    Yes, getting nuked will spoil the taste one has for being an imperialist, no doubt. So they did change and some of their values changed. But Japanese culture survived the bombing and flourishes to this day. Let’s hope it never happens here, but we stand an even better chance of being okay if it does. 9/11 changed us, but we still thrive.

    The rather swift descent into what sounds like an outraged rant…

    You are free to characterize my words in any way you choose, but also feel free to find an error in my critique (I’ll call it a “critique” to make it sound good) of the choices our current leaders have made.

    When, in your view, would military action against the jihadis be practical?

    Rarely. I think it is too blunt an instrument in most cases and almost always counterproductive on anything but a very small scale. But I do think that small-scale special forces type operations have a place in our anti-terrorism efforts. It’s interesting that you seem to think (correct me if you don’t think this) that any response short of military response is “supineness.” I don’t see it that way. It may be the case that the terrorists see it that way, but I am less concerned with what they think than with what they do. I don’t think that we can justify military action on the basis of what it makes terrorists think, or, more precisely, on what not responding militarily will make them think. I don’t understand why so many people feel that we have something to prove to terrorists.

  42. TrickyVic,
    I think a strong case can be made that military action by us, even when it harms non-combatants, recruits moderates to fight with us against the jihadis. Conversely, I think a strong case can be made that any passivity on our part, including an unwillingness to inflict harm on non-combatants, recruits moderates for the jihadis.

  43. We must be well respected all across the Middle East, then, because we have shown an eagerness to kill just about anybody.

  44. Off topic, sorta,

    Check this out
    http://www.nsatt.org/
    The NSA lets you search to see which calls of yours they have monitored.

  45. “”I think a strong case can be made that military action by us, even when it harms non-combatants, recruits moderates to fight with us against the jihadis.””

    No one is talking about passivity as a tool. Certainly not I. I’m talking about doing what works to reduce the number of enemies. If it’s political so be it. You must be proactive on the political front to make that happen. That is not being passive.

    “”Conversely, I think a strong case can be made that any passivity on our part, including an unwillingness to inflict harm on non-combatants, recruits moderates for the jihadis.””

    Well, make your “strong” case on both points then. I have not seen one. It is illogical to conclude if you kill 7 out of a family of 20, the other 13 are going to sign up for your cause.

    The options are Win, lose, and draw. Anything that does not promote the win is promoting a non-win (lose or draw).

    In the last five years have we increased, decreased, or held even, the enemy’s ranks? To determine if we are on the right path, the question is that simple. Of course the how is not that simple, but the evaluation of our efforts is.

    They say violence begets violence. This is mostly true as long as their are “others” to counter your violence.

    Let me put it this way. If a forgien government killed half of your family or half of your neighbors family (assuming you like your neighbors) would you join the forgien governments cause? or the resistance to that forgien government?

  46. Ethan said:
    ‘…we have shown an eagerness to kill just about anybody.’

    That’s false.

    It is, however, true of the jihadis.

    By the way, how would you discover how moderate Muslims are truly evaluating their situation vis-a-vis the jihadis?

  47. Change “eagerness” to “willingness”. We knew going into Iraq that our battle plans would cause thousands to die at our hands. We were willing to do so. Were we “eager”? I suppose that’s debatable. The administration–or more precisely certain key members of the administration–was certainly eager to invade Iraq, that is undeniable. But whether they were eager for all the consequences, perhaps not. So “willingness” it is. I suspect the distinction may be lost on the families of the dead. It’s kinda like the fat guy who sits next to you on the train: was he “eager” to crush my ribs with his folds of flab, or merely “willing”? Either way that sandwich in my pocket is no good anymore.

  48. By the way, how would you discover how moderate Muslims are truly evaluating their situation vis-a-vis the jihadis?

    Well, asking them is probably no good, right? So I guess by their numbers. And by the numbers of jihadists. After all, if the number of jihadists goes up or remains the same, some moderates are becoming jihadists. I would think that things were not going well for our hearts-and-minds military actions if, say, the Taliban started to rebound and assume control of parts of Afghanistan or if, say, the insurgents in Iraq were so successful in fomenting chaos that we barely controlled even the Green Zone and the insurgents could just sit back and watch the various Iraqi factions descend into civil war, despite Iraqis’ high level of respect for our civilian-killing-willingness. If those sorts of things started happening (God forbid), I would think that would be a clear sign.

  49. I asked a statistician friend of mine what the odds were of me being at a shopping mall where a suicide bomber detonates a chestful of plastic explosives.

    He told me it was over 10 Million to one and asked me if that made me feel safer.

    I told him yes at first, then I started thinking of how I go to a major mall a couple times a week and there’s usually several hundred people there. So given enough time, I could use up my 10million safety margin. Thus I asked him if there was any way to improve the odds in my favor.

    He went and did some deep statistical type analysis and reported back with this.

    “Steve, what you do is from now on, every time you go to a mall, wear an explosives vest under your own shirt.

    The odds of TWO GUYS being in the same mall with explosive packs is more like 500 Million to one.”

    Ever since then, I’ve gone back to shopping at the local flea market instead.

  50. “The odds of TWO GUYS being in the same mall with explosive packs is more like 500 Million to one.”

    This is untrue.
    The odds of someone else being at the mall with an explosive pack does not change based on your behavior. I realize you’re just bullshitting here, but a basic misunderstanding of probability is central to the issue here.

    http://www.futurehi.net/archives/000156.html

  51. Are we including the STRESS from terrorism, even if being stessed by terrorism means we’re riding with Osama?
    Then how about the STRESS from trying to not be terrorized by terrorists?

    Down, down, down into a burning ring of fire.

    What if one has diverticulitis and just had too many splashes of habanero hot sauce?
    (Speaking of burning sphincter of fire.)

  52. MAINSTREAM MAN, you are my new Probabilities Prof and boy am I glad. Did some early Xmas shopping yesterday and that fucking pack got heavy.

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